The circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have asked so much of us as college students. The world is in literal crisis, but we’ve been forced to quickly adapt into a remote schedule. And though the attempt to maintain some sense of normalcy in these times is appreciated, it’s simply not realistic. Even as you’re going through what seems like your daily routine, remember that it’s not.
Nothing about this situation is normal. Every day, we are met with new developments that suggest the world is going to collapse in on itself soon. When that is the general state of affairs, how can you focus in school? It is one thing to be anxious about your future when your actions alone determine it. But the fact is, a global solution is entirely out of our hands — this reality is debilitating, let alone distracting. With all of this uncertainty around the return to normalcy and systematic corruption brewing, a lack of motivation is valid.
And this is only how the pandemic is affecting us as a whole. This has become deeply personal for afflicted students as well. Some had appreciated college as an escape from difficult home situations, and this is entirely counter to that goal. They are once again at risk, and nationwide restrictions on movement have only exacerbated their immobility. Others have lost a crucial stream of income, or have had to work even more to support their families. What is the point of trying to get good grades when your physical and mental wellbeing is not even guaranteed?
It is a privilege to be able to put school at the top of your priorities during a global pandemic.
Moreover, college is not just an academic institution. Universities provide goods and services that are otherwise inaccessible to some students. For instance, therapy sessions are most often only available to those who can afford them. But mental and emotional struggles do not discriminate. In fact, they are merciless when it comes to the most vulnerable. Being on campus is freedom from that, but also is democratizing — every student has access to health services. With the mandatory trek home and red tape at Boston University, therapy is once again restricted to the privileged.
There’s also a great deal of mental and emotional strain associated with not being able to go outside and see other people, especially if you’re prone to depression, anxiety or other struggles. The everyday monotony of searing our eyeballs with exponentially more screen time without social interaction to break it up is exhausting. We’re spending much more time on social media, bringing back to the surface underlying self-esteem issues. We’re constantly inundating ourselves with news both in hopes of some positive developments and to stay informed, and there’s not much of the former to be seen.
Even the most introverted are feeling cabin fever. Humans are social creatures and for the majority of us this is the first time we’ve been effectively trapped — with our parents. If we are lucky enough to have their support.
Most of us have changed a great deal in college and become accommodated to personal freedom outside of our parents’ field of view. For those of us privileged to have our parents in our lives, returning home where you and your parents’ perception of yourself are often misaligned might be incredibly stressful.
With all of this being said, please treat yourself kindly while this chaos plays out. You may think since more of your time has freed up that you have no excuse to do poorly. But look at everything outlined above, and the situation calls for exactly the opposite. If you want to strive for good grades and it doesn’t wear you out, that’s perfectly valid. But you and your professors alike cannot expect this of every student when there are objectively more pressing matters at hand.
If leaning into school and burying yourself in schoolwork is the inappropriate coping mechanism, you should feel no obligation to overcompensate with the free time — which you may not even have. And while that can be difficult to believe, remind yourself that productivity is deeply ingrained in our culture. These ideas may not necessarily be your own.
We’re in strange circumstances, and if you’re not in the headspace to become your best self, you’re allowed to just be. There are larger problems to be grappling with than that midterm.